What’s your name again?

Source: Shutterstock.

Photo: Source: Shutterstock.

Most of us have experienced it. You are introduced to someone, only to forget his or her name within seconds. You rack your brain trying to remember, but can't seem to even come up with the first letter.

According to Kansas State University's Richard Harris, professor of psychology, it is not necessarily your brain's ability that determines how well you can remember names, but rather your level of interest.

“Some people, perhaps those who are more socially aware, are just more interested in people, more interested in relationships. They would be more motivated to remember somebody's name,” Professor Harris explains.

“Just because someone can't remember names doesn't mean they have a bad memory. Almost everybody has a very good memory for something,” he adds.

According to Professor Harris, the key to a good memory is your level of interest, meaning the more interest you show in a topic, the more likely it will imprint itself on your brain.

For instance, Professor Harris explains a few years ago some students were playing a geography game in his office. He started to join in naming countries and their capitals. Soon, the students were amazed by his knowledge, although Professor Harris didn't understand why. Then it dawned on him his vast knowledge of capitals didn't come from memorising them from a map, but rather from his love of stamps and learning their whereabouts.

“I learned a lot of geographical knowledge without really studying,” he says.

He adds this may also explain why some things seem so hard to remember –they may be hard to understand or not of interest to some people, such as remembering names.

Professor Harris says there are strategies for training your memory, including using a mnemonic device.

“If somebody's last name is Hefty and you notice they're left-handed, you could remember lefty Hefty,” he explains.

Another strategy is to use the person's name while you talk to them; although the best strategy is simply to show more interest in the people you meet!

How well do you remember names? Share your thoughts on this study by commenting in the box below.